➟ Couch Cushion Architecture: A Critical Analysis

Build Blog:

At first glance the composition appears unintentional and the construction shoddy. But further investigation reveals a clear delineation between indoor/outdoor space with a design focus on protection through the use of barrier. Planes are shifted off the orthogonal to accommodate function; as a side effect it relieves inhabitants from a harsh Euclidian geometry.

Posts like this are what architectural writers train their whole lives for. Many more examples through the link.

Japanese traffic lights red, yellow, blue? – JapanSugoi – Everything Cool about Japan

From JapanSugoi:

In Japan, green traffic lights are considered “blue” and described as ao shingō (青信号). In modern Japanese although there is a word for “green” (”midori 緑”), which is a relatively new term that has only been used since the Heian Period. Even after “midori” came into use, green was still thought of as a shade of “ao” instead of an independent color and only became distinguished after World War II.

Includes a couple other interesting examples of how culture filters even things we take for granted, like the color of the moon.


➟ Studio Ghibli’s Ni no Kuni for PS3

Studio Ghibli and Level-5 are making a videogame for the DS, and it’s just been announced that a version for the PS3 will also be released; most likely a different story in the same world rather than a straight port. The screenshot above is purportedly the actual game being rendered by a 2D/3D animation engine. Compare it to a still from an actual animated cutscene here. They are almost indistinguishable in terms of art quality. That a console game controlled in real-time by a player can look (at least when paused) just like a real Studio Ghibli movie is utterly amazing.

Link [Joystiq.com]

➟ iPhone 4 Drop Test

For a brief moment after the iPhone 4 was introduced, I thought I’d risk using it without a case. Now I’m pretty sure I’m not going to get one until I see a really nice solution from SwitchEasy, InCase, or Speck. Having a glass phone for most people is like having glass knuckles as a boxer.
I used my black iPhone 3G for a year with nothing but some anti-glare screen film, and all it got were a few minor scratches on the back. I might have dropped it twice, but not on bare concrete. I’ve been especially careful with the 3GS, and it’s been in some sort of case from Day 1. Unfortunately, the Power Support Air Jacket* I’ve been using since December has caused some scuffing of the chrome bezel. If you’re getting a case for your iPhone 4, be sure that all surfaces coming into contact with the phone have some sort of soft buffering material, not hard plastic.

* Power Support products are grossly overpriced outside of Japan. That USD$35 case is about SGD$60 locally, but I got mine in Tokyo for about half that price.

Update [25/06]: Now Gizmodo’s dropped their own phone by accident, and the back is all cracked too.


➟ Magician Michael Ammar on Letterman

Back when magic tricks were something I did without irony, Michael Ammar was one of the best names to start learning with. His how-to videos were slightly dated, and his gentle, fatherly style of performance at a green felt table suggested that pejorative term “parlor trick”, although his illusions were neither cheesy nor dull. It’s been years since I’d heard his name, until he popped up on The Late Show with David Letterman last month. His presentation has been updated a little, and it ends on a great (and unexpected) note.


A short aside on handheld game prices

When I bought my first Nintendo DS in the spring of 2005, touchscreen gaming was new to the mainstream and the idea of downloadable handheld content was still a few clouds short of a perfect storm. I believe you might have been able to download a game directly to a Windows Mobile PDA, but syncing them over from a desktop was the standard practice.

At that time, I was happy to plonk down £20+ (nearly SGD$60) for a simple casual game like Zoo Keeper, which many will recognize as a clone of Popcap’s Bejeweled. Yeah, that game you can play for free online. I remember ordering it online from the American Amazon.com because it wasn’t yet due in England for some time, and the ensuing wait for something to play on my new DS was torture.

Even though it launched alongside meatier fare like Super Mario 64 DS, this Match-3 game was an incredible new experience. The ability to directly manipulate blocks onscreen was hailed in the gaming press as something that could “only be done on Nintendo’s new machine”. You could even wirelessly engage other DS-owning friends in a competitive mode without them having to own a copy. I have fond memories of Zoo Keeper because its mechanics were finely tuned to allow ever-flowing speed combos, and till today still consider it a better Bejeweled than Bejeweled itself.

Present day: one can download a similar game onto an iPhone in under a minute, for free or about a dollar. You compete against hundreds of friends online through Facebook. If Zoo Keeper were to be ported to iOS tomorrow (please please please), USD$4.99 (about SGD$7) would seem too high an asking price. Even Popcap’s own sequel to Bejeweled goes for $2.99 on the iPhone while desktop PC/Mac versions continue to retail at $19.95. How did we get to this point? I love a low price on games, and while $60 for Zoo Keeper was certainly too high a price – accepted at that point in time as a form of “early adopter tax” whereby new technology for which no benchmark price has been established often goes for as high as producers dare hope the market will bear – I worry that this might not be sustainable for our ecosystem of independent and major developers. Which is why I welcome Apple’s iAds program onto my device, and everyone whining about having ads in their games can go buy themselves a PSP Go or whatever.

➟ Sizing up the iPhone 4 for shutterbugs

Fantastic review of what we know about the iPhone 4’s camera unit. In typical Ars Technica fashion, they get into the specifics of sensor suppliers and engineering technology while understanding what photographers and casual users want. News to me is that the larger sensor combined with the same lens as found on previous iPhones = a wider angle of view, close to 28mm (by 35mm film standards). Very exciting news.

Link [arstechnica.com]

➟ CNET Behind the Scenes feature on Windows Phone 7

The company decided more than a year ago to start over yet again, with a new approach and a firm target–holiday 2010–to have the all-new Windows Phone on the market. “I think when we look back on the release five years from now, this was a foundational release, not the release that broke through,” Myerson said. “We’ve got some tough competition.

Confirmed: Copy/paste functionality won’t be included in 1.0, and the producer doesn’t consider it one of his top 10 things to add in the future. I applaud their start-from-scratch approach, but they are starting way, way behind. Although many will demand multitasking, VoIP/video-calling, and a ready to go marketplace of apps in 2010, the combination of Zune/Xbox Live/Office features may be enough to attract some customers.
Link [CNET.com]